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Herculean Task for PNM
Posted: Monday, July 12, 2010

Dr. Selwyn Ryan,

I always perceived you to be a relatively intelligent man, although I may not always agree with everything you write. I could not, however, help but comment on your commentary/editorial in the Sunday Express dated July 11, 2010, and entitled: "Is the PNM really back?"

While asking a seemingly elemental question, your commentary seemed to give the impression that you were somewhat impressed with the large number of PNM attendees at the Convention and the vibrancy of the crowd, despite the inclement weather and the comprehensive blows recently received by that party in the national election.

Your commentary also seemed to focus on possible outcomes of the upcoming local elections based largely in part of the PNM party attempting to make it appear that "Patos" is no longer around and that the party has surgically removed the cancer of corruption, malfeasance, maladministration, etc.

You failed however, to truly and seriously analyze the true import of one of the most salient points made by the new leader, Dr. Keith Rowley. Simply put, that point is that, while the PNM formed the government in the nineties and in most of this decade, no one in the leadership of the party then seemed to have critically and seriously analyzed those election results.

It is my belief, and I believe that it was also stated by Dr. Rowley that the percentage of votes as well as the absolute number of votes obtained by the PNM in those elections were constantly diminishing. As an example, in November 2007 the PNM received a total of 299,813 votes, which constituted approximately 45.85 percent of the votes cast. On May 24, 2010, the said party received 285,354 votes which approximated 39.50 percent of the votes cast. Additionally, even in the 1891 election when most of the PNMites boasted about "Patos" bringing back the PNM after that 33-3 crushing defeat at the hands of the NAR. I believe even in that election the combined votes of the UNC and NAR exceeded the number of votes obtained by the PNM. In 1991 the PNM obtained 233,950, while the UNC and NAR obtained 278,881 votes.

The plain fact appears to be that the PNM has relegated itself to be an old-fashioned anachronistic and feeble party that no longer serves the needs and aspirations of the masses of the citizenry. More particularly the PNM appears to be a party of Afro-Trinis (of course interspersed with a few Indo-Trinis for good measure) concentrated in the urban areas of the Republic.

There appears to be no serious recognition by the new leadership of the party that the majority of citizens in the Republic (the Land of Oil and Music) live in the suburban and rural areas. Just to put it in context, while the PNM was able to garner only 285,354 votes, the People's Partnership Coalition garnered 432,026 votes.

As an aside, I was able to see and hear PNM's Ken Valley on C-News last week and one of his main justifications for his positive outlook that the PNM would win the local elections was that the country needs a two party system. This point of view appears to be in consonance with your view. While I left Trinidad many, many years ago, I fail to see how local government (not even mentioned in the Trinidad Constitution) could curtail or stymie the national government. Maybe you may have the answer to this.

While I believe that Dr. Keith Rowley is a very talented and honorable politician, I believe the task that "Patos" left for him (after tanking the party) may be too Herculean for him.

I sincerely hope that you are more analytical than to permit yourself to be swayed by a large crowd of exuberant "Red Shirt Palancers" packed in a convention center. The results of May 24, 2010, would be instructive in this regard.

Moreover, I am of the belief that crowds at a political gathering do not win elections, but people who go out to vote do.

Hopefully, gone are the days of race-based politics in Trinidad, I believe that the May 24, 2010, elections clearly established that fact.

Edward A. Roberts, Esq.

Brooklyn, New York.

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